Meat thermometers

steak on grill with meat thermometer

Don’t get sick by eating undercooked meat.

A meat thermometer takes the guesswork out of determining when your food is safe to eat and perfectly cooked. We tested digital and analogue models for accuracy and ease of use.

From our test

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How we test

Overall score is based on:

Accuracy (60%) We assess accuracy using a calibrated thermal bath. When the thermal bath reaches 70℃ a reading on each thermometer is taken. A reading of -/+ 1℃ gets an accuracy score of 8.0, a reading of -/+ 2℃ scores 5.0.

For thermometers that claim to be oven-proof, we check how accurate the reading is at 70℃ while cooking scotch fillet. All were within 2℃ of the calibrated reading. This didn’t contribute to the overall score.

Ease of use (40%) We check how easy it is to use and read the thermometer, insert the probe, and clean the thermometer.

Price is from an October 2018 survey.

Types of meat thermometers

Digital models are battery operated. They give you a quick reading, so are useful for checking different places in the meat. However, most aren’t oven-proof, so can’t be left in the meat during cooking. Digital thermometers tend to be more accurate than analogue.

Analogue (dial) models are usually oven-proof – the temperature indicator slowly rises as the inside of the food heats up.

Tips for using a meat thermometer

  • Read the instructions; they should tell you how far you should insert the thermometer into the meat to get an accurate reading. It should be inserted into the thickest part, away from bone, fat or gristle.
  • Clean your thermometer with hot soapy water after each use. Some shouldn’t be totally immersed in water.
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BBQ food safety tips

From cooking the mother-in-law’s steak to a perfect medium-rare, to making sure the sausies aren’t burnt, manning the barbie is no easy feat. But you also don’t want to help contribute to New Zealand’s campylobacter statistics (in 2016, more than 7400 cases were reported, of which about half were attributed to food).

  • Have separate utensils and plates for raw and cooked foods.
  • Don’t place or prepare raw meat on the grill next to cooked or partially cooked meat or other ready-to-eat foods.
  • Turn food regularly so it cooks evenly.
  • Use a thermometer to check the temperature. It should be inserted into the thickest part of the meat – away from bone, fat or gristle.
  • Marinate meat in a covered container in the fridge.
  • Keep all food covered and cool until ready to cook or eat.
  • Clean your utensils and thermometer after each use with hot, soapy water (check the instructions first as some thermometers shouldn’t be totally immersed).

What temperature?

Some meats, such as steak and chops, are safe to eat rare. The bugs are usually restricted to the outside and searing destroys them.

Processed meats like minced meat and sausages should be cooked over 75℃.

For pork and poultry the juices should run clear. Bone-in chicken should reach 82℃, all other chicken more than 75℃.